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Looking back: Bishop’s carol boycott at his own cathedral in Chichester
7:00pm Monday 15th July 2013 in News
In 1993, the Christmas carol service at Chichester Cathedral was boycotted – by the Bishop of Chichester himself.
For more than a decade Dr Eric Kemp joined parishioners at the traditional festive gathering.
But when the date of the carol service was switched from Boxing Day to the Sunday before Christmas to attract more people, the cross cleric put his foot down.
Dr Kemp believed the move broke the “11th commandment” – thou shalt not sing carols before Christmas Eve.
And as a man who practised what he preached, Dr Kemp announced he would no longer attend the carol service.
Dean of Chichester John Treadgold, the cleric in charge of the cathedral, said: “For most people Christmas is over by Boxing Day. All they want to do is sit downand watch The Eagle Has Landed.”
Another resident of Chichester Cathedral who enjoyed ruffling a few feathers was Oswald the Owl, who arrived just days after the 1987 hurricane.
Taking up residence in a tree near the cloisters, Oswald fed off the pigeons whose droppings were threatening to spoil parts of the building.
Clergymen at the 900-year-old cathedral were delighted to have the friendly eagle owl around and he made headlines around the world.
Police, however, were less happy when Oswald swooped down on patrolling officers to knock off their helmets.
No one ever discovered where Oswald came from, but it was believed he escaped from captivity during the storm.
A year later Oswald’s fascination for the choir and its music proved his downfall when he flew into the cathedral during a service and could not be tempted out.
After ten days, with his food supply cut off, handlers were sent in to crawl along rafters at the top of the building and rescue him.
Oswald spent the rest of his life living happily in an aviary in nearby Birdham with a female eagle owl companion.
Another young favourite who made the news at the cathedral was fivemonth- old Alison Furnell, who in February 1983 was the star of the show at a christening service attended by hundreds of people.
Church officials chose her as the first baby to be baptised in the new font, dedicated to the memory of George Bell, Bishop of Chichester for more than 30 years until his death in 1958.
Roman mosaic uncovered in 1969
During the Second World War Dr Bell was the key figure in a sensational attempt to end the conflict.
He flew secretly to Sweden in 1942 to rendezvous with agents of a German group wanting to overthrow the Nazis – but the plot was vetoed by the government.
A year before the war Dr Bell had helped 70 Germans opposed to Hitler to escape to England.
Chichester Cathedral in 1988
The Queen at Chichester Cathedral in 1986
But his constant opposition to carpet bombing and hate propaganda made him the butt of cartoonists and comedians.
Years later, Chichester Cathedral had made the news again when reports suggested that a group of topless slave girl dancers would be strutting their stuff at an anniversary banquet.
But embarrassed Chichester businessman Richard Mosse, organiser of a Roman banquet held as part of the cathedral’s 900th anniversary celebrations, denied the slave girl rumours.
“There was never any intention of this,” he said in June 1975.
“Someone asked what would be the authentic costume for a dancing slave girl and I said nothing.
“It was just a jocular remark and the story grew from there.”
ON THIS DAY
1099: First Crusade: Christian soldiers take the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem after the final assault of a difficult siege.
1799: The Rosetta Stone is found in the Egyptian village of Rosetta by French Captain Pierre- François Bouchard during Napoleon's Egyptian Campaign.
1910: In his book Clinical Psychiatry, Emil Kraepelin gives a name to Alzheimer's disease.
1918: First World War: The Second Battle of the Marne begins near the River Marne with a German attack.
1983: The Nintendo Entertainment System, the best-selling game console of its time, is released in Japan.
1988: The premiere of the film blockbuster, Die Hard.
The Argus’ popular “Looking Back” feature has been compiled into an A4, soft back book which catalogues the events that have made their mark on the people of Sussex. The fascinating archive of “Looking Back” images dates back to the 1930s when The Argus first started to print photographs. The book costs £6.99 including postage and packing. To order please visit theargus.co.uk/store
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